Nick Major, corporate affairs director at ForFarmers, takes over from Rudd Tijssens at the helm of the EU trade group. Tijssens had been in the role since 2013.
Major, who also chairs the UK’s Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) and currently leads the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) pilot on feed in the context of the EU Commission initiative for a single market of green products, was elected at the FEFAC annual congress in Spain last week.
“Under Ruud Tijssens’ presidency and that of the previous incumbent, Patrick Vanden Aveene, the European feed industry has become much for proactive, and much less defensive and reactive. Look at the work done on the soy sourcing guidelines, for example. I will be continuing in that direction,” he told FeedNavigator.
His presidency, he continued, will strive to reflect the recently published FEFAC Vision 2030.
“So, in essence, that is about the role that animal nutrition can play in resource efficiency, the continuous mitigation of greenhouse gas GHG emissions, something I have worked on consistently under the PEF pilot, the greater use of co-products within the sector, and also how feed can support animal health and welfare.”
The European feed sector is a pivotal link between farmers of arable crops and farmers of livestock as it connects both worlds by being a customer to the one and a supplier to the other, he stressed.
“We have the means and the obligation to influence.”
He stressed that the Commission needs to take account of science-based evidence in its decision-making, and he outlined ways it can ensure the animal feed and livestock sectors are not left behind under the reform of the CAP.
Resilience of livestock sector
“The EU dairy and swine sectors have had a particularly tough time of late. The Commission needs to boost the resilience of those livestock segments, making new market management tools available.”
Major said there are lessons to be learnt from previous CAP reforms.
He said the Commission could enhance the viability of the EU livestock sector through the following actions:
- Maintaining a stable and predictable legal framework
- Facilitating availability and access to feed materials, with a focus on the removal of non-tariff barriers
- Improving the possibility for livestock farmers to manage their financial risk
- Enabling access to export markets, as a source of growth for EU livestock sector
- Stimulating research and innovation at a pre-competitive level, together with dissemination of knowledge
“The livestock sector is under intense scrutiny in terms of its environmental impact.
“While, Commissioner Hogan’s presentation at our congress in Spain showed that he wants to align the CAP with the sustainable development goals defined by the UN, the CAP also needs to ensure a level playing field in terms of implementation of the COP 21 Paris agreement by EU member states.”
In terms of stakeholder engagement, Major said the FEFAC congress heard from experts within and outside the feed industry on how it should communicate. “They encouraged us to be out there, to tell people what we do in relation to raw material sourcing, or how optimal animal nutrition can support a reduction in AMR. However, we are never going to be a consumer facing industry. We can engage more with processors and retailers, who are the link to the end user.”